Seattle • The Utah Utes came to Seattle hoping to take another step toward becoming a bowl eligible team.
Instead, they took a step back in a 34-15 loss to Washington. Make that a big step, maybe a few, in the wrong direction.
The Utes (4-6, 2-5), coming off back-to-back games in which their offense put up 49 points, believed they were an improved team that could win out.
However, the Huskies (6-4, 4-3) exposed them to be something else as Utah’s defense struggled to corral Washington quarterback Keith Price and the offense failed to be productive outside of giving the ball to running back John White.
Now the Utes must beat Arizona (6-4, 3-4) at home Saturday and win at Colorado (1-9, 1-6) in the season finale to become bowl-eligible for the 10th straight season.
The good news for the Utes is they get Arizona at home, where they are 4-1. The bad news is Utah has yet to win on the road this year and has yet to beat a Pac-12 team that has finished above .500 since it joined the league.
Saturday’s game was a reminder that as much as the Utes might have improved, they still aren’t good enough to beat an average Pac-12 team.
Among the stats that stood out were Washington’s 7-for-15 success on third downs compared with Utah’s 1-for-13, and Washington’s 437 yards of total offense to Utah’s 188 yards.
White was responsible for 142 yards, but all his effort accomplished was a breaking of his streak of Utah winning when he reaches 100 yards or more at 11 games.
His effort couldn’t make up for several squandered chances by Utah’s offense and it couldn’t counter the Huskies’ ability to move the ball behind Price.
The two key moments in the game were an interception by Utah quarterback Travis Wilson on Washington’s 20-yard line in the second quarter that led to a Washington touchdown and Utah’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 on its 43-yard line during the opening series of the second half.
White was stuffed in the middle and failed to get the first down. Washington took over and needed just four plays to score with a 9-yard pass between Price and DiAndre Campbell to make it 21-8.
That series summed up the game as Washington was able to capitalize on scoring opportunities while the Utes couldn’t.
Thanks to several penalties and poor decisions by the Huskies, Utah’s average starting field position in the first half was its 35-yard line.
However, it came away with just one score, a 46-yard run by White, out of its six first-half possessions.
Wilson was under constant pressure by Washington’s defense and finished just 8-for-23 for 55 yards. He didn’t get much help from the receivers as the Utes dropped several catchable balls.
On the other side, Price schooled the Utes in efficiency. The quarterback who threw for a school-record 33 touchdowns last year picked apart Utah’s secondary, finishing 24-for-33 for 277 yards, and also beat the Utes with his feet.
The best example of such came in the fourth quarter when Washington had third-and-5 on its 36-yard line. Price dropped back to pass, saw nothing open and casually ran 7 yards for a first down on the right side.
That play was just one of three third-down conversions the Huskies made in a 16-play, 82-yard drive that took eight minutes, 43 seconds and ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Bishop Sankey.
Sankey finished with 36 carries for 162 yards.
The Utes didn’t have much time to work a comeback after that score, but they needed more than time Saturday anyway. They needed to move the ball forward. Instead, the Utes kept going backward.
Storylines Utes’ road woes continue
R In short • The Utes fall to 0-8 all-time against Washington.
Key moment • Utah fails to convert a fourth-and-1 on its 43-yard line. Washington takes over and scores, going up 21-8 on its first drive of the second half.
Key stat • The Utes are 0-5 on the road.